Buffaloes at a glance
Record: 4-4, 1-4 Pac-12
Last week: Lost at Washington State, 28-0
Steven Montez, So.: 144-for-233, 1,712 yards, 12 TD, 6 INT
Sam Noyer, Fr.: 12-for-26, 113 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Phillip Lindsay, Sr.: 207 att., 1,093 yards, 10 TD
Steven Montez, So.: 79 att., 223 yards, 1 TD
Beau Bisharat, So.: 17 att., 47 yards
Bryce Bobo, Sr.: 42 catches, 451 yards, 5 TD
Shay Fields, Sr.: 35 catches, 390 yards, 2 TD
Devin Ross, Sr.: 27 catches, 354 yards, 1 TD
LB Drew Lewis, Jr.: 83 tackles (29 solo)
LB Rick Gamboa, Jr.: 77 tackles (27 solo)
S Evan Worthington, Jr.: 55 tackles (45 solo)
Where they rank
How the Buffs rank nationally:
Scoring: 86th (25.8)
Rushing: 61st (167.9)
Passing: 60th (232.0)
Total: 65th (399.9)
3rd downs: 62nd (40.3%)
Red zone: 68th (82.8%)
Scoring: 57th (24.6)
Rushing: 96th (193.9)
Passing: 71st (228.1)
Total: 97th (422.0)
3rd downs: 97th (42.5%)
Red zone: 63rd (82.1%)
Penalties: 89th (6.88)
Turnover margin: 37th (plus-0.50)
3 questions facing CU
1. Who will play quarterback?
That’s been the question all week, after head coach Mike MacIntyre opened the competition after a 28-0 loss to Washington State. Steven Montez has started every game, but struggled mightily last week. Whether its Montez or Noyer, the Buffs need better play out of this position.
2. How motivated is this team?
By now, it’s clear that CU’s goal of winning the pac-12 is out the window. After a dismal performance last week, even a bowl game is no guarantee. The Buff still have a chance to make something good out of this season, but only if they show up to play this week.
3. Can the defense build off last week?
The bright spot of last week was the defense showing some improvement. That side of the ball needs to continue to get better in stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback.
Bottom line: The Buffs’ bowl hopes are essentially on the line this week. They have to somehow win two more games to get to a bowl, and this is – on paper, anyway – the most winnable game left. Win this one and the Buffs can take momentum into the next three games. Lose it, and the Buffs can forget about playing in December.
Golden Bears at a glance
Record: 4-4, 1-4 Pac-12
Last week: Lost to Arizona, 45-44, 2 OT
Ross Bowers, So.: 174-for-309, 1,997 yards, 12 TD, 10 INT
Patrick Laird, Jr.: 93 att., 530 yards, 6 TD
Vic Enwere, Sr.: 86 att., 304 yards, 4 TD
Derrick Clark, Fr.: 13 att., 45 yards
Vic Wharton III, Jr.: 39 catches, 552 yards, 3 TD
Kanawai Noa, So.: 36 catches, 547 yards, 2 TD
Patrick Laird, Jr.: 26 catches, 191 yards, 1 TD
LB Raymond Davison III, Sr.: 47 tackles (32 solo)
OLB Cameron Goode, Fr.: 40 tackles (18 solo)
CB Camryn Bynum, Fr.: 40 tackles (24 solo)
* LB Devante Downs leads Cal with 65 tackles, but he’s out for the season
Where they rank
How the Golden Bears rank nationally:
Scoring: 65th (28.4)
Rushing: 122nd (107.4)
Passing: 44th (256.3)
Total: 95th (363.6)
3rd downs: 72nd (38.8%)
Red zone: 89th (80.0%)
Scoring: 82nd (28.4)
Rushing: 77th (175.4)
Passing: 100th (258.0)
Total: 100th (433.4)
3rd downs: 94th (42.4%)
Red zone: 41st (77.4%)
Penalties: 71st (6.38)
Turnover margin: 32nd (plus-0.63)
3 questions facing California
1. Can Ross Bowers avoid mistakes?
The Bears’ sophomore quarterback has had a good season, but he’s also been prone to mistakes. He’s thrown 10 interceptions (tied for the Pac-12 lead) and has fumbled nine times, losing four. He can avoid the turnovers, the Bears have a good chance.
2. How well can the Bears run the ball?
Cal has been one of the worst running teams in the country this season, both in yards per game (107.4) and per carry (3.1). Meanwhile, CU’s run defense has struggled mightily the last three weeks. Last week, Washington State came in as the worst rushing team and piled up 194 against the Buffs. If Cal can approach the 200-yard mark, the Buffs will be in trouble.
3. Can the Bears force turnovers?
Cal leads the country with 21 takeaways (eight fumbles, 13 interceptions). CU has had just one in the last four games combined (a fourth-quarter fumble last week). Forcing turnovers has been a key to Cal’s season so far and will be again.
Bottom line: Cal has ready exceeded the expectations many had for a team in transition. A bowl game is within reach, however, especially if the Bears can get this game in Boulder.